I am slightly taller now*
The below is an email from my Grandad, summarising his thoughts on Peter Thiels Zero to One. It is one of my favourite reads (this email that is).
Date: 21 April 2017 at 12:02:44 BST
Subject: Thiel Spiel
Dear Ben,Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to exercise what few brain cells I have left. Luckily the subject matter has not imposed an undue demand on my capability, so let’s get on with it.Thiel SpielThis tome to me is cluttered with trivia. If I strip out the hyperbole, historic dross, wild assumptions, celebrity references, glaring inaccuracies and meaningless jargon, then it doesn’t ammount to much more than a can of beans.Where he has allowed himself to simplify, e.g. his reference to common sense, he hasn’t been able to resist the temptation not to leave it at that, but has gone on to muddy the waters by trying to define it.His reference to the three day week during the economic problems of 1974 are nonsense. During that period many companies, mine in particular, saw productivity rise by some 12%, so much so, that we adopted a four and a half day week as a permanent feature,when the so called crisis was over.The claims he makes for technology to be seen as a holy grail per se, is naive to be charitable, as is his ridiculous assumption that nothing innovative ever came, or could come from a large organisation. (Don’t they have a reference library at Stanford?) The thirst for knowledge is, and always will be a constant, but the harnessing and application of such gained, needs considered thought. In practical terms, it is useful to remind ourselves that everything new technology supercedes was at one time the new technology, so should it therefor be discarded? If such culling could in any way be justified, then how come we are still so reliant on the humble wheel, the bicycle chain, and a piece of rope etc.? There are no absolute answers here, nor is it likely there will ever be. Many questions will remain, such as ‘Ccould technology ever provide a bedside manner, an emotion, or a charitable act of kindness?’There is no mention of the need for time to think, to ponder, or mull over possible ramifications in this homily to never ending success that I can detect. That the entrepreneur is a vital element in encouraging innovative thinking is without question, but long term economic stability remains a pipe dream despite the best efforts of visionary thinkers. In any case, should the future of mankind (sorry, peoplekind) be put at risk by the casual acceptance of building on the quicksand ofmandatory innovation?The only meaningful utterance I can find here is his astonishing eureka conclusion that the first step on the road to success is ‘to think for yourself’! Now that overwhelms me! (Where the hell has he been?) Nonetheless, you won’t be surprised to know that on this I totaly agree with him, but such profound wisdom must surely render the rest of his text to be rather superfluous! With which, I would also agree.Well that’s it Ben, but I can’t help thinking that the good students of Stanford might in future consider a cheaper option to enhance their learning, by going on a half day trip to Disneyland.Lots of love.As ever, your opinionated Grandad.